By Shereen Siewert

One week after Wausau officials canceled all “non-essential” meetings amid the ongoing public health emergency, the mayor is clarifying the directive with an executive declaration defining which meetings are and are not considered essential.

Residents and some local candidates called for additional guidelines after questioning why some meetings were still being held that appeared to list non-urgent matters.

In a news release issued late Thursday, Mayor Robert Mielke issued those guidelines, defining “essential” as a “matter requiring decision or action by the governmental body in order to: preserve or provide for the health, welfare or safety of the public; provide necessary supplies or services to the citizens of this city; to make contractual payment deadlines to third parties; meet state or federal statutory or regulatory deadlines; make budgetary amendments or expenditures needed to continue governmental operations; make decisions critical to those business entities operating within the city in support of their operations, including the approval or issuance of licenses related to business or their personnel in order to facilitate their business operations; or actions for council ratification.”

“Non-essential” means a matter, decision or action that can be postponed for consideration at a later date without detriment to the operation of city, the provision of services to citizens or the health, welfare or safety of the public, according to the release.

The Board of Public Works, Finance Committee, Plan Commission and council met over the past week, each of which had remote call-in options for residents and media to participate in addition to allowing in-person attendance. Several, but not all, council members appeared remotely at meetings. Members of the public attending in person were asked to keep a six-foot distance from one another, though several staff members were seated side by side in meetings over the past week.

Future meeting agendas will be limited to essential business only, according to the new rules.

People attending critical meetings by phone can call in using a unique access code that will be posted with each meeting notice. Meetings are also available at https://tinyurl.com/wausaucitycouncil.

Investigative journalist, music enthusiast, blogger, animal lover, kayaker, knitter, wife, mother.